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This article is about the unit in Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten. For the unit in Age of Empires, see Elephant Archer (Age of Empires).

Indian unique unit. Heavy mounted archer.
Age of Empires II description

The Elephant Archer is the first unique unit of the Indians in Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten. It is a heavy cavalry archer with low speed but very high hit points.

Elephant Archers can be upgraded to Elite Elephant Archers in the Imperial Age.

Tactics[edit | edit source]

Elephant Archers have high HP and pierce armor, and deal the same amount of damage as Cavalry Archers. Like all Elephants, Elephant Archers move quite slowly, even more so than foot archers, but they are still faster than War Elephants.

Elephant Archers have more HP than any other Archer in the game, including the War Wagon. They pack the durability of a War Elephant into a powerful package with the range and attack of a Cavalry Archer. Their extremely high HP and pierce armor makes the Elephant Archer function much like a mobile tower with the advantage that they can be healed by Monks.

Because of their high pierce armor, they are also good as an anti-archer unit. However, as elephants they are extremely vulnerable to Pikemen. Unlike most other archers, they are quite good at destroying buildings.

Even though Elephant Archers fare far better against enemy Monks than Persian War Elephants do due to their range, they still struggle against Monks. Like the Persians, the Indians also lack Heresy, a circumstance that furthers that issue.

While Elephant Archers might look strong at first glance, they are a highly situational and rarely used unit (in one on one games). This has three main reasons:

  • They are hard to mass, due to their high cost and the fact that they can only be trained at the Castle, and archers are at their best in large numbers.
  • Their low speed takes away the main advantage of other cavalry archers, being able to outmaneuver slower units like infantry or Elite Skirmishers. Once Halberdiers can come close they shred Elephant Archers, and the slow Elephant has little means to escape.
  • They have many vulnerabilities, due to them being in a total of five armor classes, the most of any unit in the game. This gives the opponent a wide array of units they can use against the Elephant Archer, depending on their civilization's strengths and overall game plan.

This combination of factors makes them function better in tandem with other units, to balance their relative strengths and weaknesses. While alone, their short range and weakness to the Spearman line make them relatively weak, when combined with other archer units, their short range automatically places them in the ideal position to tank enemy damage, while the other archer units or Hand Cannoneers quickly eliminate any threatening infantry. In return, their extremely high health and pierce armor make them a very effective defensive unit, absorbing damage that would otherwise quickly kill their companion archer units.

Their short range (7), high HP (350) and high pierce armor (9) means that they are supposed to be used as a meatshield for other ranged units. Mangonels, Onagers, Scorpions, Crossbowmen and Elite Skirmishers have range advantage, naturally, but even Indian Hand Cannoneers have a range advantage due to Shatagni. Even a very small number of Elephant Archers can dramatically increase the durability of a group of ranged units at a relatively low cost in terms of damage and resources. For example, a group of 40 Hand Cannoneers is easily defeated by a group of 40 Elite Skirmishers, but a group of 34 Hand Cannoneers and 3 Elite Elephant Archers will instead win the same fight for the same cost. In this manner, they function similarly to Battering Rams, with the advantage of being cheaper, faster, more resistant to most types of melee damage, and healable by Monks or in Castles.

A very common use of Elephant Archers at high levels is to counter massed Arbalesters and their variations (except Genoese Crossbowmen) due to their very high pierce armor. The pierce armor of fully upgraded Elephant Archers is equal to fully upgraded Tatar Genitours and Elite Genitours, fully upgraded non-Lithuanian Imperial Skirmishers (all of them having 9), while being lower than fully upgraded Elite Huskarls, Elite Rattan Archers, Lithuanian Elite Skirmishers, and Incan Elite Eagle Warriors (all of them having 10). These values are only rivalled by fully upgraded Lithuanian Imperial Skirmishers (11) and heavy defensive structures. Arbalesters do only 1 damage to fully upgraded Elephant Archers, while fully upgraded Elite Longbowmen and Elite Rattan Archers do 2.

They can be considered as variations of Tarkans, due to the high pierce armor and bonus damage against buildings, while being cost-ineffective against melee units.

An important point to note is that even though Feudal Age Skirmishers have +3 attack bonus, it is not advisable to use them. 3 damage on a 280 HP unit is quite low and will not be cost effective. Elite Skirmishers do +8 attack due to bonus damage and are a much better choice. It is even advisable to delay the Fletching line upgrade to get the Elite Skirmisher upgrade first. Despite all this, remember than Elephant Archers have basically the same damage output as a regular Cavalry Archer (except against buildings) and a much slower movement, making heavy melee units like the Paladin and Elite Battle Elephants very effective.

However, even in their ideal scenario, a player should not expect to use more than a ratio of 1 Elephant Archer to 10 other archers.

Further statistics[edit | edit source]

As Elephant Archers are unique to the Indians, only technologies that are available to them are shown in the following table:

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Slow non-ranged units, archers, buildings
Weak vs. Spearmen, Kamayuks, Berserks, Genoese Crossbowmen, Huskarls, Mamelukes, Camel Riders, Eagle Scouts, Samurai, Monks, Skirmishers
Hit points BloodlinesDE.png Bloodlines (+20)
Attack Fletching.jpg Fletching (+1)
Bodkinarrow.jpg Bodkin Arrow (+1)
Bracer.jpg Bracer (+1)
Chemistry.jpg Chemistry (+1)
ParthianTacticsDE.png Parthian Tactics (+2 attack against Spearmen)
Range Fletching.jpg Fletching (+1)
Bodkinarrow.jpg Bodkin Arrow (+1)
Bracer.jpg Bracer (+1)
Firing rate ThumbRingDE.png Thumb Ring (+18%)
Accuracy Ballistics.jpg Ballistics (hit moving targets)
Armor Paddedarcherarmor.jpg Padded Archer Armor (+1/+1)
Leatherarcherarmor.jpg Leather Archer Armor (+1/+1)
Ringarcherarmor.jpg Ring Archer Armor (+1/+2)
ParthianTacticsDE.png Parthian Tactics (+1/+2)
Speed HusbandryDE.png Husbandry (+10%)
Conversion defense Faith.jpg Faith
Creation speed ConscriptionDE.png Conscription (+33%)
Upgrades Elite-unique-research.jpg Elite Elephant Archer

Team bonuses[edit | edit source]

Changelog[edit | edit source]

The Forgotten[edit | edit source]

  • Elephant Archers cost 110F/80G.
  • The upgrade to Elite Elephant Archer costs 1200F/800G.
  • Elephant Archers have 250 HP (350 for Elite).
  • Elephant Archers have 4 pierce armor.
  • Elephant Archers have -2 archer and 0 cavalry archer armor.
  • Elephant Archers have a reload time of 2.5.
  • Indians do not get Ring Archer Armor.

The African Kingdoms[edit | edit source]

  • Elephant Archers now cost 100F/80G.
  • The upgrade to Elite Elephant Archer now costs 1000F/800G.
  • Elephant Archers now have 280 HP (330 for Elite).
  • Elephant Archers now have 3 pierce armor.
  • Indians: Get Ring Archer Armor.

Rise of the Rajas[edit | edit source]

Definitive Edition[edit | edit source]

  • With update 37650, Elephant Archers now cost 100F/70G and their reload time is reduced to 2.0

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The Elephant Archer, along with the Conquistador, has the most armor classes of any unit in the game, at five.
  • In the mod version Age of Empires II: The Forgotten Empires and the retail version Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten, up to patch 3.4, the Elephant Archer was represented by an Age of Empires Composite Bowman mounted atop a War Elephant. The Elephant Archer got redesigned in patch 3.5. Further redesigns were made in patch 3.6.
  • Since patch 3.6, Elephant Archers have a wheel-like symbol at their sides. The symbol is known as Dharmachakra (lit: wheel of law) and symbolizes the spiritual change in Buddhism.[1]
  • If one looks closely, every time the Elephant Archer attacks, the arrows will launch from the elephant's head instead from the rider's bow
  • The Elephant Archer is often seen by players as the worst unique unit in the game. This is mostly because of their highly situational uses, fairly high cost and the amount of weaknesses that they have due of the great amount of armor classes. Two of the rare situations in which this unit is useful are the two last scenarios of the Prithviraj campaign.
  • The usage of an archer on top of a war elephant can be traced back to the Carthaginians' era as a countermeasures against cavalry, therefore a war elephant is still able to attack enemy at close range. The lack of a melee attack of the Elephant Archer is most likely due to the engine's limitations.
  • Topped only by the Camel Archer and the Berserk, the Elephant Archer is the third-most expensive unique unit to fully upgrade in Age of Empires II. Considering all upgrades listed above except Faith, the total cost is 6,325 resources (600 wood, 3,300 food, 2,425 gold as of the Definitive Edition, update 47820).

History[edit | edit source]

People from the Pre-Indic Indus civilization were the first to tame elephants, roughly around 4,000 years ago in Indus valley for agricultural purpose. Later on, Indic-speaking newcomers from the steppes introduced horses and familiarized themselves with tame elephants. The first military application of elephants dates from around 1100 BC and is mentioned in several Sanskrit hymns. War elephants were used either to charge and trample enemy troops directly, or to carry archers and spear throwers who can attack from the top. Elephant's sheer height and mass offered considerable protection for their riders.[2]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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